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May 7, 2008 3:22 PM

Russian, Georgian Presidents Both Former Lawyers

Posted by Brian Baxter

After winning 70 percent of the vote in a March election, Dmitri Medvedev was sworn in today as president of Russia, succeeding Vladimir Putin. The 42-year-old Medvedev received his law degree from Leningrad State University--now known as Saint Petersburg State University--in 1987 and worked with Putin for several years in Saint Petersburg's city government. In 2000, Medvedev became chairman of the board of OAO Gazprom, Russia's largest company and the world's largest producer of natural gas.

Under Medvedev's chairmanship of Gazprom, the Russian government used its monopoly over the gas supply to former Soviet states such as Ukraine and Belarus to obtain higher prices for its gas. Medvedev also presided over greater nationalization of gas resources, forcing the sale of foreign oil company stakes in Russian gas fields to Gazprom.

Medvedev's first order of business as president might be calming the rising tensions between Russia and former Soviet republic Georgia. Yesterday Georgian government officials claimed that Moscow's increased involvement in several breakaway regions are an act of war. The White House yesterday criticized Russia over the provocations.

The American Lawyer's Julie Triedman touched on the tense relations between the two countries in a magazine feature in February. Interestingly, Georgia's 40-year-old president, Mikhail Saakashvili, received an LLM from Columbia and served a stint as an associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler in New York.

Will the two lawyers strike a deal?

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